Lake Arrowhead, CA – Patient evaluation is just one of the responsibilities of a hospital social worker.
When someone comes into the Emergency Department at Mountains Community Hospital and they present as a possible danger to themselves or others the doctor or staff will call the Hospital Social Worker to assist in evaluating the patient.
Who does a family talk to when there is a death and they need some extra support? Who is called if an assault victim shows up at the ED in panic mode after learning her attacker has not been arrested?
Gloria Fernandez is the person who is called for these situations. She is the MCH Social Worker and her primary function is to serve the Hospital. She identifies psychosocial problems accompanying illnesses and counsels in crises situations for patients and their families. She provides supportive counseling for patients and families and provides crises intervention to all hospital departments.
Gloria is the Manager of the Social Service Department at MCH. Gloria graduated with her Masters in Social Work in 2005 at the age of 55 from Cal State San Bernardino. She started at MCH in September 2005. She received her Licensed Clinical Social Worker designation in 2009. An LCSW requires 3,200 social work hours under supervision.
Many years ago Gloria’s young brother was attending USC and was involved in a horrendous automobile accident. He has never fully recovered from that accident but his experience and care propelled Gloria into her professional field. She said, “My calling is working with End of Life Care and Complicated Grief. Complicated Grief might be a mother whose baby died from SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) but who blames herself for her child’s death.” Gloria is also a mandated reporter in cases of suspected abuse.
Gloria works closely with resources on our mountain. If there is a domestic violence problem she can involve DOVES in the situation. DOVES can transport the victim to a secure location. If there is a case of anger management, Gloria can refer the patient to Rim Family Services. If a patient doesn’t want to be seen on the mountain, she can refer them to resources down the hill. Gloria also works closely with Hearts & Lives, WIC, Operation Provider, Church of the Woods and Crestline Seniors. These groups might share their food and gas cards for patients leaving the Hospital.
Gloria does a psychosocial evaluation on every patient presented to be admitted to the 20-bed Long Term Care Unit at MCH. The process is to determine if this proposed admission is a good fit for the patient, the family and the Hospital.
She also does a psychosocial evaluation on some patients in Med/Surg. A patient could be homeless, helpless or on drugs. Gloria evaluates the patient and determines what resources could help them.
She is also a part of the Emergency Response Team. When there is a code in the Hospital; Gloria is part of the immediate response team. She is trained to respond in a crises situation.
She teaches the benefits of having an Advance Directive to patients and their families and staff. She also assists physicians and staff in explaining the necessity of having POLST (Physician Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment) in place. She provides the forms and explains the decisions patients need to make for care and treatment. It can be devastating for families to make decisions about care when the patient is unable to express their wishes. It is extremely important to develop an Advance Directive early in the process.
According to Gloria, “There is also a spiritual component for many patients and families in the End of Life care. I have been involved in some recent training to enhance my knowledge. I am a very spiritual person myself so I understand the importance of this aspect of palliative care.”
She adds, “I feel privileged to be working in my field and honored to be working at Mountains Community Hospital.”